Do you work in the book industry? Which of the following best describes you? Publicist or Marketing Professional. Other Book Industry Professional. Please provide an email address. Media reporter, reviewer, producer, guest booker, blogger. But who was Albert, after all, that he should have the power to release me or constrict me-- this man I no longer knew, with this run-down house and his ludicrous frog-wife. There I ate for a while in sudden silence, looking only at my food, and when I glanced up I saw him looking at me kindly, almost affectionately.
And I was grateful, as I had always been, for we had been close, he and I, back then. After lunch he insisted on showing me his land-- his domain, as he called it. I had hoped that Alice might stay behind, so that I could speak with him alone, but it was clear that he wanted her to come with us. So as we made our way out the back door and into his domain she followed along, taking hops about two strides in length, always a little behind us or a little before. At the back of the house a patch of overgrown lawn lead to a vegetable garden on both sides of a grassy path.
There were vines of green peas and string beans climbing tall sticks, clusters of green peppers, rows of carrots and radishes identified by seed packets on short sticks, fat heads of lettuce and flashes of yellow squash-- a rich and well-tended oasis, as if the living centre of the house were here, on the outside, hidden in the back. At the end of the garden grew a scattering of fruit trees , pear and cherry and plum. An old wire fence with a broken wooden gate separated the garden from the land beyond. We walked along a vague footpath through fields of high grass, passed into thickets of oak and maple, crossed a stream.
Alice kept up the pace. Alice in sunlight, Alice in the open air, no longer a grotesque pet, a monstrous mistake of Nature, a nightmare frog and freakish wife, but rather a companion of sorts, staying alongside us, resting when we rested--Albert's pal. And yet it was more than that. For when she emerged from the high grass or treeshade into full sunlight, I saw or sensed for a moment, with a kind of inner start, Alice as she was, Alice in the sheer brightness and fullness of her being, as if the dark malachite sheen of her skin, the pale shimmer of her throat, the moist warmth of her eyes, were as natural and mysterious as the flight of a bird.
Then I would tumble back into myself and realize I was walking with my old friend beside a monstrous lumbering frog who had somehow become his wife, and howl of inward laughter and rage would erupt in me, calmed almost at once by the rolling meadows, the shady thickets, the black crow rising from a tree with slowly lifted and lowered wings, rising higher and higher into the pale blue sky touched here and there with delicate fernlike clouds. The pond appeared suddenly, on the far side of a low rise. Reeds and cattails grew in thick clusters at the marshy edge.
We sat down on flat-topped boulders and looked out at the green-brown water, where a few brown ducks floated, out pst fields to a line of low hills. There was a desolate beauty about the place, as if we had come to the edge of the world. Alice sat off to one side, low to the ground, in a clump of grass at the water's edge. She was still as a rock, except for her sides moving in and out as she breathed. I imagined her growing in the depths of the pond, under a mantle of lilypads and mottled scum, down below the rays of green sunlight, far down, at the silent bottom of the world.
View all 5 comments. Jun 23, Sam rated it liked it Shelves: If ever one writer had pet obsessions that he recycles, story after story, that writer is Steven Millhauser. The progression of artists towards stranger and stranger forms and obsessions or children growing up through psuedo-magical means form the basis of almost every story in this collection, and while the prose, as always, is quite strong, there's an equally strong sense of treading water.
In "The Dream of the Consortium" we get a picture of an enormous department store selling the world's co If ever one writer had pet obsessions that he recycles, story after story, that writer is Steven Millhauser. In "The Dream of the Consortium" we get a picture of an enormous department store selling the world's contents that can't help but bring to mind the final chapters of "Martin Dressler", and it's difficult to read "The New Automaton Theater" without remembering "August Eschenburg", another story about life-like clockwork creations in his much more interesting collection "In the Penny Arcade".
The strongest stories here take flight when Millhauser takes a break from the conceptual and focuses on more realistic emotional matters, especially "Claire De Lune", about a teenage boy taking a walk on a summer night and stumbling upon a bunch of girls playing a secrete baseball game.
While none of these stories are slouches, I'd suggest reading "In the Penny Arcade" first if you're interested in Millhauser's short fiction, and as always, I recommend "Edwin Mullhouse" to anyone with an interest in reading one of the finest American novels of the latter twentieth century.
I loved that book so much that I scooped up The Knife Thrower the second I saw it at the used bookstore. The Knife Thrower is a bit more uneven than Dangerous Laughter , which had at least one novel concept that really engaged me in each story. The 12 stories in this collection are: A fantastically entertaining description of an unorthodox travelling magician.
This concept was a bit of a miss for me although Millhauser does a good job in spinning out the story. A disturbing account of a town where teenage girls join a mysterious and inexplicable cult. A man finds that his affair has unforeseen consequences. Not the strongest story in this book, but not bad. The New Automaton Theater: The story of a village where clockwork automatons are admired as entertainment and the secretive manufacturers that create them. The Dream of the Consortium: A spectacular short story about a mysterious department store designed to cater to our every desire.
This was quite simply one of the greatest short stories I have ever read. Thought provoking and incredibly entertaining. Journalistic account of a 19th century balloon flight during wartime. The story of a bizarre and mysterious theme park. It is worth buying this book just for these 41 pages. A man who grew up in bestial isolation addresses his adopted city after assimilating to human life.legutel.com/includes/336/1551.php
THE KNIFE THROWER and Other Stories by Steven Millhauser | Kirkus Reviews
Beneath the Cellars of Our Town: The description of a town that has an extensive and seemingly pointless series of tunnels beneath its soil. Fascinating and classic Millhauser. And the highpoints are amazing. Steven Millhauser really is one of the most talented writers in the business right now and I wish he was more widely read.
While I have reservations with some of the stories in this collection, they are outweighed by how incredible the top ones are and I would recommend this book to anyone. View all 3 comments. I picked this one up because I couldn't resist the cover art and the fact that it might have something to do with circus. This book lived up to my expectations and then wildly exceeded them. Not all of the stories sung to me, but the ones that did were absolutely amazing.
The author creates a magical array of worlds within worlds, dark and mysterious and stunning to explore. In 3 of the stories which ended up being my favorite he literally built from the ground up these absolutely incredible s I picked this one up because I couldn't resist the cover art and the fact that it might have something to do with circus.
In 3 of the stories which ended up being my favorite he literally built from the ground up these absolutely incredible self contained architectural marvels that are completely out of this world, yet through exploring them we learn much about the explorers themselves. Here are the dazzling metaphors and meditations on human condition, on its essential inability to be satisfied yet occasionally getting stunned but what they find in their pursuits of the next best thing.
There is a depth and beauty to the writing that has some gothic leanings as well as dark fantasy ones. Absolutely gorgeous short story collection, literary architecture at its finest. About half of theses stories are kind of plotless; the other half are quite gripping plot-wise. His plotless stories are Borgesian philosophical fictions that end up being allegories for our postmodern world. He renders his imagined worlds quite vividly; indeed, he's a master at concrete detail.
And when he wants a plot, as he does in the title story and in "A Visit," "The Sisterhood of Night," "The Way Out," "Flying Carpets," and "Claire de Lune" , he provides tension a-plenty as he conveys his strange scenarios. They're fascinating premises, and Millhauser develops them adeptly, conveying complex motivation, mystery, and ambience galore. Several of them have first person plural narrators, a difficult undertaking in a story of any length but one that Millhauser pulls off over and over again. Jun 27, Melanie rated it really liked it. I'm reading this very slowly - a story or two every few weeks - and I'm finding that I'm enjoying it that way much more than if I sat down for one long read of it.
This way, the fact that the voice of the stories is always so similar isn't bothering me at all, because I am reading them as completely separate entities. I always say I'm not a short story reader, but I'm wondering if that's because I've been reading them wrong all this time, and I should have been approaching them more like I'm app I'm reading this very slowly - a story or two every few weeks - and I'm finding that I'm enjoying it that way much more than if I sat down for one long read of it.
I always say I'm not a short story reader, but I'm wondering if that's because I've been reading them wrong all this time, and I should have been approaching them more like I'm approaching this set of stories Anyway, these are very weird and sometimes overly-serious, but interesing and full of those lines that really pop out at you and you re-read over again because they sound so gorgeous in your head.
Really lovely writing and really interesting premises to each story. Nothing feels spelled out for you, there is a lot of thinking about what's actually happened and adding your own self to the story, trying to analyze it within your brain. My father had taught me not to believe in stories about Martians and spaceships, and these tales were like those stories: T My father had taught me not to believe in stories about Martians and spaceships, and these tales were like those stories: Then we will forgive you.
But the girls do not wish to tell us anything, they don't wish to be heard at all. Remember when albums mattered? When you had to buy music not song by song but as a collection of connected songs? How some artists would actually arrange the whole album as a piece of collective art above and beyond the particular songs themselves? That is this book. The whole work taken together comprises a meditation much greater than the parts.
Some of the parts don't even work all that well without the whole. The theme of the collection emerged with surprising clarity as I was fighting with "Paradise Park," which at first appeared to be a retread of "The Dream of the Consortium. It is an extended meditation on imagination, particularly the creation and consumption of art and the relationships between art, artist, and consumer reader. It is one of those books that almost need to be reread as soon as finished, because once its theme emerges in the last pages, the whole work need re-examination with the new perspective in mind.
I am going to wait a bit on that myself, but I will do it eventually. There is also a nice rhythm to this collection. The stories move from night to day and back again in an almost unbroken progression. There is also a pattern of rising and falling, from flights to explorations of subterranean worlds that begs for a closer examination. The seams of the work are showing in places, and the repetitive nature of the anthology is a little frustrating, but between the meat of the theme and the beauty of the writing particularly "Flying Carpets," "Clair de Lune," "The Dream of the Consortium," and "Balloon Flight, " , there is really very little to complain about here.
I loved it even the moments of frustration. I see in other reviews that some have dismissed this as derivative of Italo Calvino and recommended Invisible Cities instead. There is nothing new under the sun, and revisiting the same concepts from a different angle does not strike me as an immense burden. Dec 11, Favorite 77 rated it it was amazing. No son terror, pero son inquietantes de una manera imprecisa. No hay misterio y no hay, la mayor parte de las veces, emociones en juego.
The Knife Thrower
Leer a Millhauser es siempre un deleite. Aug 07, Zoe Brooks rated it really liked it Shelves: Millhauser's short stories fall in to two types: The stories often start out in an apparently normal mundane world before moving into the magical alternative realities, drawing the reader with them.
There are certain themes that run through the stories. His characters seem to be trying to escape the world, flying above it on a Millhauser's short stories fall in to two types: His characters seem to be trying to escape the world, flying above it on a carpet or balloon, going underground into the tunnels under a town or into a theme parks. In a way this is paralled by our experience as readers.
My favourite story was The Sisterhood of the Night in which the adults are worried by what they perceive as a secret society of teenage girls, who gather at night but seem to say and do nothing. At first one is fascinated by what the girls are up to, but after a while one suddenly realises that the action in the story is in the increasingly paranoid reactions of the adults. How easily it could slip into a witchhunt. We too have been guilty of speculating. I am in awe at Steven Millhauser's stylistic mastery. He uses the first person point of view with great ease, even though he has little time in a short story to establish the voice.
His descriptions are wonderful: I particularly admire the subtle way he shifts the ground under the reader until suddenly, just like the audience in the title story, you are no longer sure what you are seeing. This review first appeared on the Magic Realism blog: Aug 03, Phil rated it really liked it. This is the first book by Millhauser that I've read, and I really enjoyed it. As others have mentioned, there are recurring themes in many of these stories - flight, underground passages and chambers, mysterious stage shows, scale models - most of which take place in small towns.
Both "The New Automaton Theater" and "Paradise Park" seem like they could be, at least in part, allegories of cultural or art history. Millhauser is often compared to Borges, and indeed both deal frequently with the nat This is the first book by Millhauser that I've read, and I really enjoyed it.
Millhauser is often compared to Borges, and indeed both deal frequently with the nature of reality, verisimilitude, and representation, but Millhauser forgoes Borges' literary references in favor of exquisite description and dreamlike moods. Who hasn't had dreams where everthing seems normal with the exception of one bizarre or implausible element that everyone treats like an unremarkable matter of fact?
These stories also reminded me of those by the criminally obscure horror writer Thomas Ligotti, though Millhauser's aren't nearly as dark and pessimistic. All in all, these well-crafted tales are definitely worth a read. The language is beautiful too, so if you're as voracious a reader as I am, it's worth slowing down to savor it. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more Millhauser. Mar 19, craige rated it really liked it Shelves: So, I really had not read this book, or if I had, I utterly had forgotten it.
I thought the stories all went on a bit too long and the 2nd and 3rd one were a bit rambly. The imagery was great, though. And I do tend to enjoy a new story that builds upon a legend, as the 2nd and 3rd stories do. But I have to wonder how come the first story was included with these two. I have to guess that it fits with them because of the house imagery as all three stories had interesting structures as part of them So, I really had not read this book, or if I had, I utterly had forgotten it.
I have to guess that it fits with them because of the house imagery as all three stories had interesting structures as part of them. I thought the first story went on too long and the second story is going in an odd direction, but the writing is compelling, so I'm still drawn in. Not sure if it will in fact merit the 5 stars I gave it before I read it, but I'll wait until I've read all the stories before I change my rating. I particularly love Millhauser's work with the plural, communal narrator here -- I don't think I've ever seen it done with such skill, and the result is often creepy and insidious in the way that groupthink really is.
Title story is amazing, and I feel like I can actually see the unbelievable worlds he created in Dream of the Consortium and Paradise Park. She seemed to take a deep breath before she tossed again. This time Hensch flung his three knives with extraordinary speed, and suddenly we saw all three hoops swinging on the partition, the last mere inches from the floor.
She motioned grandly toward Hensch, who did not bow; we burst into vigorous applause. Again the woman in the white gown reached into her bowl, and this time she held up something between her thumb and forefinger that even those of us in the first rows could not immediately make out. She stepped forward, and many of us recognized, between her fingers, an orange and black butterfly. She returned to the partition and looked at Hensch, who had already chosen his knife.
With a gentle tossing gesture she released the butterfly. We burst into applause as the knife drove the butterfly against the wood, where those in the front rows could see the wings helplessly beating. That was something we hadn't seen before, or even imagined we might see, something worth remembering; and as we applauded we tried to recall the knife throwers of our childhood, the smell of sawdust and cotton candy, the glittering woman on the turning wheel.
Now the woman in white removed the knives from the black partition and carried them across the stage to Hensch, who examined each one closely and wiped it with a cloth before returning it to his box. Abruptly, Hensch strode to the center of the stage and turned to face us. His assistant pushed the table with its box of knives to his side.
She left the stage and returned pushing a second table, which she placed at his other side. She stepped away, into half-darkness, while the lights shone directly on Hensch and his tables. We saw him place his left hand palm up on the empty tabletop.
With his right hand he removed a knife from the box on the first table. Suddenly, without looking, he tossed the knife straight up into the air. We saw it rise to its rest and come hurtling down. Someone cried out as it struck his palm, but Hensch raised his hand from the table and held it up for us to see, turning it first one way and then the other: Hensch lowered his hand over the knife so that the blade stuck up between his second and third fingers.
He tossed three more knives into the air, one after the other: From the shadows the woman in white stepped forward and tipped the table toward us, so that we could see the four knives sticking between his fingers. Oh, we admired Hensch, we were taken with the man's fine daring; and yet, as we pounded out our applause, we felt a little restless, a little dissatisfied, as if some unspoken promise had failed to be kept.
For hadn't we been a trifle ashamed of ourselves for attending the performance, hadn't we deplored in advance his unsavory antics, his questionable crossing of the line? As if in answer to our secret impatience, Hensch strode decisively to his corner of the stage. Quickly the pale-haired assistant followed, pushing the table after him. She next shifted the second table to the back of the stage and returned to the black partition.
She stood with her back against it, gazing across the stage at Hensch, her loose white gown hanging from thin shoulder straps that had slipped down to her upper arms. At that moment we felt in our arms and along our backs a first faint flutter of anxious excitement, for there they stood before us, the dark master and the pale maiden, like figures in a dream from which we were trying to awake.
Hensch chose a knife and raised it beside his head with deliberation; we realized that he had worked very quickly before. With a swift sharp drop of his forearm, as if he were chopping a piece of wood, he released the knife. At first we thought he had struck her upper arm, but we saw that the blade had sunk into the wood and lay touching her skin. A second knife struck beside her other upper arm.
She began to wriggle both shoulders, as if to free herself from the tickling knives, and only as her loose gown came rippling down did we realize that the knives had cut the shoulder straps. Hensch had us now, he had us.
Long-legged and smiling, she stepped from the fallen gown and stood before the black partition in a spangled silver leotard. We thought of tightrope walkers, bareback riders, hot circus tents on blue summer days. The pale yellow hair, the spangled cloth, the pale skin touched here and there with shadow, all this gave her the remote, enclosed look of a work of art, while at the same time it lent her a kind of cool voluptuousness, for the metallic glitter of her costume seemed to draw attention to the bareness of her skin, disturbingly unhidden, dangerously white and cool and soft.
Quickly the glittering assistant stepped to the second table at the back of the stage and removed something from the drawer. She returned to the center of the wooden partition and placed on her head a red apple. The apple was so red and shiny that it looked as if it had been painted with nail polish. We looked at Hensch, who stared at her and held himself very still. In a single motion Hensch lifted and threw. She stepped out from under the red apple stuck in the wood. From the table she removed a second apple and clenched the stem with her teeth.
At the black partition she bent slowly backward until the bright red apple was above her upturned lips. We could see the column of her trachea pressing against the skin of her throat and the knobs of her hips pushing up against the silver spangles. Hensch took careful aim and flung the knife through the heart of the apple. Next from the table she removed a pair of long white gloves, which she pulled on slowly, turning her wrists, tugging.
She held up each tight-gloved hand in turn and wriggled the fingers. At the partition she stood with her arms out and her fingers spread. Hensch looked at her, then raised a knife and threw; it stuck into her fingertip, the middle fingertip of her right hand, pinning her to the black wall. The woman stared straight ahead. Hensch picked up a clutch of knives and held them fanwise in his left hand. Swiftly he flung nine knives, one after the other, and as they struck her fingertips, one after the other, bottom to top, right-left right-left, we stirred uncomfortably in our seats. In the sudden silence she stood there with her arms outspread and her fingers full of knives, her silver spangles flashing, her white gloves whiter than her pale arms, looking as if at any moment her head would drop forward--looking for all the world like a martyr on a cross.
Then slowly, gently, she pulled each hand from its glove, leaving the gloves hanging on the wall. Now Hensch gave a sharp wave of his fingers, as if to dismiss everything that had gone before, and to our surprise the woman stepped forward to the edge of the stage, and addressed us for the first time. The master will mark me. Please do not make a sound.
She gazed steadily at Hensch, who seemed to be studying her; some of us said later that at this moment she gave the impression of a child who was about to be struck in the face, though others felt she looked calm, quite calm. Hensch chose a knife from his box, held it for a moment, then raised his arm and threw. The knife struck beside her neck. He had missed--had he missed? Then we saw, on her neck, the thin red trickle, which ran down to her shoulder; and we understood that her whiteness had been arranged for this moment. Long and loud we applauded, as she bowed and held aloft the glittering knife, assuring us, in that way, that she was wounded but well, or well-wounded; and we didn't know whether we were applauding her wellness or her wound, or the touch of the master, who had crossed the line, who had carried us, safely, it appeared, into the realm of forbidden things.
Even as we applauded she turned and left the stage, returning a few moments later in a long black dress with long sleeves and a high collar, which concealed her wound.